In our recent top 5 Paris post, one of our picks was a shoe retailer/ manufacturer called ‘Twins for Peace’. This is a concept similar to Toms, which gives a pair of shoes when you buy a pair of shoes from them . ‘Twins for Peace’ is the brain child of two descendants of the Hermès family – Maxime and Alexandre Massard. We recently spoke to Max about the concept to delve a little deeper. This is what he had to say…
Retail Oasis: So, where did the idea for ‘Twins for Peace’ come from?
Max: Alex and I were in Madagascar playing football with some local children when one of the boys hurt his foot as he was playing barefoot and actually didn’t have any shoes. I gave him my pair of shoes so he could keep playing and the next day, he waited for me on the beach to give me his English book as a thank you. I was so touched by his gesture and that is where the idea was born.
RO: Did it take you a long time to realise the concept ?
Max: My first trip to Africa really affected me. Poverty and suffering is all around but these people were some of the most generous, kind hearted human beings I have ever met. Seeing the contrast between the way we live and western greed, I knew I wanted to do something to give back but wasn’t sure how. The concept only came to me when playing football in Madagascar.
RO: Why did you decide to create your own store for the brand instead of just using the stockists you currently have?
Max: We have to thank our stockiest for the support they have given us but at the same time we have a story to tell and the goal is to help others. Having our own store helps us better transmit why we do what we do and to help spread the Be Cool Be Good philosophy. Also on a more practical basis we have quite a lot of models and we need a place to showcase them all!
RO: There are retailers and companies who think ‘giving back’ isn’t profitable – do you have any advice for the skeptics?
Max: Look at the successes of companies like ‘RED’, ‘TOMS’ or ‘Charity Water’. They’re highly successful global brands. Our generation is moving away from the years of excess that our parents and grandparents lived through. The modern consumer is now looking to shop smartly and of course consciously, whether it be fair trade, eco-friendly, buy one – give one. We understand now that things have to change so we think if there is no form of ‘giving back’ in your retail plan, then you will eventually be losing out. Regardless, there are some things money can’t buy, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping others is definitely one of those things.
RO: Finally, what are your future plans for the brand – are going to open more stores, or expand into different clothing lines, or new ways to help others/give back?
Max: We’re hoping to expand with more stores, especially outside of France. We have a children’s line of shoes coming next year and we have a special chocolate project in the works that we hope will help combat malnutrition. Otherwise, we hope the brand will grow internationally so we can conduct more Shoe Projects worldwide.